Frequently Asked Questions

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers!

While there are some great sites out there for more detailed answers to questions about genetically engineered foods, such as GMO Answers, Alliance for Science, and Genetic Literacy Project, here are brief explanations of some of the especially common ones:

What is a GMO?

Why use genetic engineering instead of other crop improvement techniques?

How are GMOs made?

Are GMOs safe?

There is no definitive evidence that suggests approved biotech crops are any less safe than their conventional counterparts. To date, humans have consumed over three trillion meals contain genetically engineered foods without a single proven case of harm. Additionally, there are hundreds of studies analyzing GMOs, and per the conclusions of leading science and health organizations like the World Health Organization, American Medical Association and many others, there should be no safety concerns pertaining to approved biotech crops.

How does a GMO get approved in the U.S.?

Genetically engineered crops must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before they can be freely grown and consumed in the United States. The USDA requires evidence demonstrating that the biotech crop does not pose a plant or disease threat. The process involves rigorous testing and multiple opportunities for the public to submit comments before the review can be completed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the safety of food and animal feed. Though their review of new biotech crops is usually voluntary, it is standard procedure for the companies seeking USDA approval to also engage in an FDA review.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the safety of pesticides in the U.S., is also involved in biotech crop regulation in cases where the product relates to pest management, such as herbicide-tolerant crops.

How does a GMO get approved in Canada?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada (HC) are both involved in the regulation of genetically engineered crops in Canada. The CFIA’s review focuses primarily on the potential impact of an environmental release of GMOs, requiring significant evidence demonstrating that the crop under review does not present any unique environmental risks. Health Canada ensures that a proper safety assessment is carried out prior to approval and the results sufficiently address potential concerns.

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